Toronto Maple Leafs Make Lineup Changes Due to Michael Bunting 3 Game Suspension


The Maple Leafs believed Michael Bunting will be suspended and indeed it has just been confirmed that he will miss 3 games due to his infraction from game 1.

Bunting was dressed in a grey sweater, which is usually reserved for healthy scratches.

Bunting was scheduled to appear before the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Wednesday afternoon following his match penalty in Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

During the second period of the Lightning’s 7-3 victory, Bunting hit Lightning defenceman Erik Cernak, who did not have the puck. Bunting’s night was cut short when he was assessed for an illegal check to the head/interference during the match. Cernak never returned to the game.

“He has put himself into a bad spot, but we have options if needed and we will move things around,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said, referring to Bunting. “We think (Matthew Knies) is a great option for us. In the games that he has played, I think he did a good job. He’s taken care of all he can do in the short amount of time he has been here.”

Knies appeared to be set to make his Stanley Cup playoff debut in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena, but Keefe stated that final lineup decisions would be made on Thursday.

One decision has been made: Ilya Samsonov will start after he was pulled in behalf of Joseph Woll to start the third period in Game 1.

“Sammy is going in net for sure,” Keefe said. “He wanted to get on the ice today. We were going to sort of cater the practice to what he wanted coming off of a start. He wanted to be in there and to me, he was sending a message to the team about how focused he is.”

Keefe may go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, as he did frequently late in the regular season.

The 20-year-old Knies skated on a line in practice with centre Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari on the left.

Knies played well in three games at the end of the regular season after signing a three-year contract.

“That’d be awesome,” Knies said of the chance of getting into Game 2. “Every kid’s dream is to play in the playoffs and play for the Stanley Cup, so I’d be super-stoked and pumped to be a part of it and just try to contribute.”

And Calle Jarnkrok, as he did after Bunting was done on Tuesday, skated on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Alex Kerfoot was on the second line’s left side, with captain John Tavares shifting back to the center and William Nylander on the right.

David Kampf’s fourth line, consisting of Zach Aston-Reese and Sam Lafferty, remained unbroken.

The defense pairings of Jake McCabe and TJ Brodie, Morgan Rielly and Luke Schenn, and Mark Giordano and Justin Holl remained unchanged.

Goalies Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll were also present for practice, which began at noon.

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